Dining Together Online and Make ‘It is the Best of Times: It is the Worst of Times

IT IS THE BEST OF TIMES; IT IS THE WORST OF TIMES (Borrowing from Charles Dickens’ Novel – A Tale of Two Cities) Challenging assumptions, protocols, traditions, expectations, eliciting wide range of responses and actions.

Who would have thought millions of children and their parents and grandparents would be Zooming online from grade school through college world-wide, conferencing, working from home, online book clubs, classes.  My younger daughter Tasha and her husband Dan who live in Morocco teach their classes now by Zoom from their home while their son, Zane in 9th grade shares the home space to take his classes by Zoom online while the country is on lockdown. Absolutely amazing how teachers and students at all levels are rising to the occasion.

Impact on food services at all levels is mind boggling. From farm workers to Fine Dining restaurants—school lunches and food banks—fast food places—the family diner—hotels, cruise ships, hospitals, nursing homes, grocery stores, delivery services, Uber. I track Uber and have since I was an Uber driver in 2016-2017. We used to drive some for Lyft as well for extra income and some started adding Uber Eats—not many did it…then. As of last 2 or 3 months thats about the main source of income for Uber drivers—at least around here. Meal delivery. For the restaurants locally Fine Dining Canlis’s co-owner Mark Canlis and his crew read the tea leaves well had the dining room closed and began the restaurant shutdown that was mandated on March 16, 2020 with a breakfast bagel shed, a burger drive through for lunch and a family meal dinner delivery service. So, if you live in Seattle you could order in for DTO—you can recreate a fine dining experience…How appropriate for Dining Together OnlineTM  I have had the good fortune to dine at Canlis a few times over the years. Coincidentally one of my DTO partners who now lives in Scottsdale, AZ –She and her husband and I celebrated their final days in Seattle at Canlis about 4 years ago –I had known them for 35 years in Seattle…they were going to retire in AZ. The meal was marvelous and memorable-wow—deserving of its high-quality reputation and established name in the city. I remember seeing a picture in the paper of the billboard above Canlis pointing down with a big “Drive Thru” designation. It was so out of character I did a double take. “Fine dining is not what Seattle needs right now. Instead, this is one idea for safely creating jobs for our employees while serving as much of the city as we can.” What an interesting case study (the academic in me is always close?) Will have to call her when I get this finished. Our DTOing got interrupted with health issues compounded with grief of her husband dying and genetic memory issues with accompanying hearing challenges. Argh. It will be nice to have a sharing session with a Canlis update.

About a week ago as I had purchased my first Ho Ho’s in years and was munching away—caught an article in paper about Pepsico’s positioning now that it owned Hostess and how fortuitous for Pepsi that it got into snack food and Coke didn’t to same degree. There is a big increase in snack food sales with Covid-19. I decided to do a tiny tiny bit of trading to just get a couple shares of Pepsico.

Hostess (Pepsico) has Ding Dongs. That might be before your time but it’s a comfort food from way back. It was just in paper a couple days ago – front page of WSJ“Ding Dong Ditch is Back with Actual Ding Dongs” (WSJ A1,2 May 16-17, 2020) Used to refer to pranking by ringing doorbell and hiding goes back to English school children. Social distancing is fueling a comeback of the game which doorbell cameras had dampened success of. The latest version being a kinder twist –57-yr old Melinda Hall, a children’s minister in San Marcos, Texas, spent 7 hours playing ding-dong ditch, hitting 28 houses with actual Ding Dongs. She had to shop “ at two Target stores, a Walmart and then emptying a display at her local Dollar General store” Shades of TPing at Halloween but now with a positive Random Act of Kindness twist—giving treats instead of pranks. Now the quarantine increasingly calls for the ding-dong ditch approach leave the food, flowers, packages, ring the bell and leave. Apparently ding-dong ditch has been around for awhile or some variation. Every May Day Father would sneak out of the house and pick some flowers for Mother—ring the doorbell and run around sight unseen back inside. Father died @ 58 years old…Mother lived to 99 ½ Bruce and I made sure she had a May Day basket every year till she passed … My DTO partner and I are big on staying connected?

May baskets are still part of May Day tradition in some parts of US. Interesting to see how these times are bringing out Random Acts of Kindness

The Ding-Dongs have additional saving grace when given –and if you receive them you get a 2fer of comfort food and the rush—dopamine hit from a random act of kindness…They do have potential downside sugar overload, rough on scales…sigh, Z and I will get out for our 10,000 steps as soon as I get this emailed. I will have a salad for dinner while I check to see what happened to Pepsico today.

It is a challenge to maintain perspective or even find one when the news can seem like such a downer with Covid-19 and politics coverage—loneliness, hunger, deaths. Keep looking for the other sides. The possibilities. Not in a Pollyanna way. Just looked up that word—do you know where it comes from? A 1913 children’s book by Eleanor H. Porter about a young girl who tries to find something positive in every situation…a trick she calls “The Glad Game” (Interesting—we spent some time toying with idea of making DTO a game) Actually that is a good idea to try for—referred to as looking for the silver lining (from John Milton’s 1634 poem ‘Comus”)

A really good way to maintain-gain perspective is what I know a lot of you are doing already—reaching out. Taking positive action. Helping others help themselves. Grandparents are stepping in to help with childcare, my friend Jan in Oregon is making prayer shawls non-stop,

My younger friend Diana (62?—mere youth) was able to secure a source for medical masks which she donated the first batch of to local humanitarian group –is making run tomorrow with 10,000 to farm worker organization in middle of the state. Farmers & immigrants we count on for our food supply and our economy. We are so interdependent. The more we reach out the more it encourages others to do so also and the better we feel which helps our immune system. Every once in a while it’s a good idea to look for the positive stories…great for restoring faith in humanity.

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